Sixteen-year-old Zayna Rizvi (USA) kicked off her weekend in Traverse City with a bang, racing to an international win aboard Excellent in Friday’s $37,000 North Face Farm CSI2* Welcome Stake. With her partner over the past year, she bested eight pairs in the jump-off for the top prize at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors.
Over Manuel Esparza’s (MEX) first-round course, 46 entries tried their hand but only eight navigated to clear rounds within the time allowed. Among those eight were top athletes at the international level including 2019 Pan-American Games team bronze medalist Alex Granato (USA) and U.S. Olympian Margie Engle.
Age proved to just be a number for Rizvi, who shaved nearly two seconds off the leading time as she came in aboard the Peacock Ridge, LLC-owned Excellent. She and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Cicero Z Van Paemel x Ahorn) saved precious seconds on the clock by leaving out strides and cutting tightly between fences.
Setting the pace prior to Rizvi and ultimately taking second place was David Oberkircher (USA) and Vulkato, owned by Southfields Farm LLC, in 37.05 seconds. Just behind in third by two one-hundredths of a second in 37.07 was Granato and Helios vd Nosahoeve, owned by Kisma Equestrian, LLC.
“It was the beginning three or four jumps where I took fewer strides that made the difference,” Rizvi, who hails from Wellington, FL, commented. “That helped me get ahead so I could relax to the last line and gallop to the last [fence].”
Despite the big names coming forth in the class, Rizvi held her own and has learned quite a bit from the international levels over the past few years. “It was really cool,” she said of landing the top spot Friday. “I’m the youngest one. It’s awesome to compete against all these professionals. It’s a great experience for me and I learn so much from it.”
Since partnering with Excellent, Rizvi has moved up into the CSI2* levels and aims to move into more CSI3* classes throughout the coming year so she can step up to higher levels in years to come. The pair jumped to a team and individual gold medal at the 2021 North American Youth Championships and will contest their first CSI3* grand prix at GLEF next week.
“He is amazing,” Rizvi said of Excellent. “He’s brave, awesome, and so much fun to ride. He’s also so sweet in the barn and we have a really great bond. We trust each other, which is what I think makes it go well for us in the show ring.”
Competition culminates for international athletes Sunday afternoon in the $72,800 CSI2* Grand Prix. Saturday competition welcomes national athletes for the $30,000 Bellwyn Farm Traverse City National Grand Prix.
Final Results: $37,000 North Face Farm CSI2* Welcome Stake
1.EXCELLENT: 2009 KWPN gelding by Cicero Z Van Paemel x Ahorn
ZAYNA RIZVI (USA), Peacock Ridge LLC: 0/0/35.15
2.VULKATO: 2011 BRAND stallion by Vulkano x Charismo
DAVID OBERKIRCHER (USA), Southfields Farm LLC: 0/0/37.05
3.HELIOS VD NOSAHOEVE: 2012 KWPN stallion by Numero Uno x London
ALEX GRANATO (USA), Kisma Equestrian, LLC: 0/0/37.07
4.FRASIER: 2010 KWPN gelding by Carambole x Padinus
SAMANTHA SCHAEFER (USA), Bonne Vie LLC: 0/0/37.44
5.SONIC BOOM: 2012 SWB gelding by Seacoast Wonderful
HAILEY ROYCE (USA), Double Clear LLC: 0/0/37.70
6.MORRIS HORTA: 2012 BWP stallion by Eldorado VD Zeshoek x Vigo D Arsouilles STX
MARTIEN VAN DER HOEVEN (USA), Luccirelli International, LLC: 0/0/38.50
7.ASTON DES ETISSES: 2010 SF gelding by Mylord Carthago x Quidam De Revel
MARGIE ENGLE (USA): Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 0/0/38.40
8.CLIFF Z: 2008 ZANG gelding by Canturano x Quasimodo Z
MATTHEW BODDY (GBR), Gotham Enterprizes, LLC: 0/4/36.02
9.MAESTRO VAN HET BINNENVELD: 2012 BWP stallion by Hunter’s Scendix x Conan Z
WESLEY NEWLANDS (CAN), Weslands Farm: 1/76.10
10.SEMPA FIDELIS: 2009 HANN mare by Stakkato Gold x Concetto Famos
GEORGINA BLOOMBERG (USA), Gotham Enterprizes, LLC: 4/71.22
11.CHADINA: 2009 OLDBG mare by Conthargos x Narew
MCKAYLA LANGMEIER (USA), Rafferty Farm LLC: 4/72.28
12.CONTHARGOS: 2011 OS stallion by Conthargos x Quidam’s Rubin
NICK DELLO JOIO (USA), The Berry Group: 4/72.28
Mechlin and Arnhols Produce Top Tests for Honors in THIS Children’s Medals
The younger division of the THIS Children’s Medal class kicked off competition in the Van Kampen arena on Friday morning for winner Wright City, MO’s Emma Mechlin. Twelve young riders qualified to compete in the 14 and under division contested the first phase with the top four entries invited to return for a test. The questions asked for the test included a counter-canter direct from the ingate to an oxer, as well as a rollback to a trot fence where riders were then asked to halt immediately after before walking out of the ring on a loose rein. Mechlin topped the leaderboard on 21 Questions after posting a score of 83.
“My plan in today’s test was just to keep everything smooth,” said Mechlin, 13. “The pair that was in second place had a mistake so I knew if I kept myself and him calm then we could deliver a good test.”
The win is the first blue ribbon for Mechlin with the Brookside Pine Farms LLC’s five-year-old Warmblood gelding, who was only recently imported. “I have been riding him just shy of two months now, and he is still pretty young,” Mechlin added. “This is our first win together so it’s a big day, and I’m very proud of him.”
Mechlin has one more year competing in the 14 and under division and hopes to take her new partner to various equitation finals in the future.
The blue ribbon in the older section of the THIS Children’s Medal went to Emma Arnhols, 17, of Coral Gables, FL, and her own Spiros Z. Arnhols returned in the top position following the first phase which saw 13 entries, and she held her lead by earning the best score in the test phase. The older children’s section was asked to line up on the far side of the arena for the test, return in ascending order, and completed a course of several fences which included rollbacks, a counter-canter, and a hand gallop to the final fence before trotting back to the lineup.
“He was absolutely perfect today,” commented Arnhols of the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding. “He is very handy and I think that really is what set us apart today. He is very responsive off of my leg so I know I am always able to make all of the inside turns, and I never have to worry about him spooking.”
The pair have already qualified in the top five for THIS National Medal Finals at The Capital Challenge Horse Show, but Arnhols hopes they will be able to earn themselves a spot at Maclay Finals as well. Most importantly, as her junior years come to a close, she just wants to make this final year memorable.
“I really want to just enjoy my last year as a junior,” she said. “To me, that is more important than anything!”